How do the Austrians get their locals and visitors to taste and buy the new vintage of their wines each year?
In Austria, way before the early 1700’s, vinedressers used to sell their finished wines to anyone passing by, as did their wine-making neighbors. In 1784, Austrian Emperor Joseph II issued a decree that permitted all residents could open their homnes and sell and serve self-produced, and self-made wine, juices and food.
This has continued down to this day and is called Heuriger. (Hewig means “this year’s”) People who produce their own wine may open their homes as so-called wine taverns, letting passers-by stop in to drink and purchase this year’s wine. Not only may they sell their wine, but, they may also serve and sell a buffet of cold and hot foods, such as wiener schnitzel, which is thinly sliced veal or pork coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Other popular foods are cheeses and meats, and a spicy cheese called liptauer that is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, quark or cottage cheese.
Entertainment is allowed as long as it is not pre-recorded. Usually, two performers called Heurigensanger sing along with guitar and accordion. Visitors sit at tables in the yard and eat, drink and sing along with the performers. This is part of everyday life in Vienna, just as we would go to the theater or a sporting event. You can take a walk and choose from the many Heurigers that are open. If you find a bunch of pine twigs bound up and hanging over a door, it’s a common signal to show they’re open.
At this very moment, I wish I was sitting on one of the long wooded benches at a Heuriger, enjoying a glass of Hopler Gruner Veltliner, and a plate of wiener schnitzel!
Marie, Wine Supervisor, West/Northwest Coast Florida